Installing Powerline in Debian

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Powerline is an awesome status bar that tells you additional information about various things in bash, vim, and tmux. It comes in handy and makes your terminal look sweet. It is a little bit of a PITA to install, but it is totally worth it. I got most of the way there with this very helpful Stack Overflow answer. But I ran into an issue with vim in Debian. I was getting an error telling me that vim needs to be compiled with python support in order for powerline to work. This seemed silly to me because you should not have to recompile vim in order to use this little plugin. Luckily the solution was easy. There are like 20 different vim packages in debian. The default vim package gives you a bare bones vim install. In order to take advantage of this plugin and other goodies you should install the vim-nox package. In order to install powerline in debian you should do the following. This will install everything system wide.

  1. Install pre requisites
     sudo apt-get install vim-nox git python-pip
  2. Install Powerline
     sudo pip install git+git://
  3. Install the required fonts
     sudo mv PowerlineSymbols.otf /usr/share/fonts/ 
     sudo fc-cache -vf 
     sudo mv 10-powerline-symbols.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/
  4. Add the following to your ~/.vimrc
     set rtp+=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/powerline/bindings/vim/  
     " Always show statusline 
     set laststatus=2  
     " Use 256 colours (Use this setting only if your terminal supports 256 colours) 
     set t_Co=256
  5. Add the following to your ~/.bashrc
     if [ -f /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/powerline/bindings/bash/ ]; 
     then source /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/powerline/bindings/bash/ 
  6. Add the following to your ~/.tmux.conf
     source /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/powerline/bindings/tmux/powerline.conf 
     set-option -g default-terminal "screen-256color"

Restart your terminal and you should see powerline working now. Open up vim and prepare to be amazed.

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